Climbing Dunn River Falls


Dunn River Falls, Ocho Rios Jamaica – Diego Delso (Wikimedia) CC-BY-3.0 2008

I will never forget the last time I was in Jamaica. Yeah, it’s true – nobody believes me – but I’ve actually been there. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm at the thought of going back.

Is that the Caribbean Island where they drive on the WRONG SIDE of the road. you ask? Oh, no, that is Bermuda, I think. Incidentally, I was there also on the same tour. You just can’t imagine how scary it is for Americans as tour buses go flying down the roads, driving on the left side instead of the right. I must have died a thousand deaths on the bus in Burmuda, only to open my eyes and find nothing had happened at all. The tour guide called it driving on the “other” side or the “left” side. Ha, I thought, as I brushed imaginary glass out of my hair and checked for imaginary broken bones. I may not know Jamaica from Bermuda, but I do know wrong from right – at least when it comes to driving.

Unharmed by the many near misses in Burmuda, I had the biggest adventure of my life – climbing a waterfall. Yep, one of the big tourist attractions in Jamaica is Dunn’s River Falls. American tourists pay good money to get in rapid water and climb up sharp, slippery rocks. It’s called “having fun.”

Everybody was doing it; so I figured it couldn’t be that hard. Heck, I didn’t want to be the only tourist in Jamaica that hadn’t climbed the falls. I could have gone to the beach, I could have gone sightseeing, I could have gone shopping – duty free. (That has a nice ring to it.) But no, of all there is to do in Jamaica, I chose to climb a waterfall – now that’s either a woman determined to have FUN – or FUN determined to have a woman.

My mistake was being too cheap to buy special climbing shoes. I figured I could make it just wearing a pair of gym shoes. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Wet gym shoes weigh a ton. I didn’t think of that.

The tour guides pranced deftly through the roaring water showing the novice tourists how to climb. We formed a human chain, holding hands, the swift water making it nearly impossible to stand up otherwise. I flip-flopped along on the rocks through the rushing waters in my wet, 40-pound gym shoes. We reached halfway, a pool of green water where the others fell in backwards, laughing. I fell in with my heavy feet and went straight to the bottom.

Laying on the bottom of the river bubbling and waiting for death, it occurred to me that the water was NOT very deep. “STAND UP!” yelled the river guide.   Continuing to climb, we came to an overlook with stairs leading down the embankment to the river.  An escape! I looked up at the waterfall cascading rapidly towards me. Should I “chicken out” or plunge bravely on?

Setting on the bank, pouring the water out of my shoes, I knew I would NEVER be entitled to wear a T-shirt saying, “I climbed Dunn’s River Falls.” I later gave the tour guide a small tip anyhow. He gave me a tip too. “Next time, lady, don’t wear gym shoes.”

©2000 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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8 Responses to Climbing Dunn River Falls

  1. Lovely post, have written about our climb up the falls on my blog too. It’s something really special and a wonderful refreshing adventure unique in its own way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. energywriter says:

    Funny! I climbed Dunn River Falls too, many years ago. It was difficult, but fun. My only issue was the rest of the group were tired of waiting for me by the time I reached the top. sd

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having lived for a few years in Jamaica, I can assure you that Dunn’s River Falls is a spectacular natural phenomenon as well as a place to watch with amusement what the tourists do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheila Moss says:

      Next time I’ll be watching too, not climbing. LOL Afterwards, there were many people walking around with casts on their arms. We have a waterfall in TN that is similar called Cummins Falls. I don’t climb it either.


  4. Lois says:

    Gee Sheila, the least they could have done is give you a T-shirt for doing what you did do! You did climb the falls and fall in. Where was Honey to take a video of you climbing and falling? Or should I just stop now? Ha, ha!

    Liked by 1 person

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